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Stan Wawrinka defeats Novak Djokovic to win U.S. Open for third Grand Slam title

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 — Pointing to his temple after winning the biggest of points, Stan Wawrinka wore Novak Djokovic down and beat the defending champion 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 on Sunday for his first U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam trophy overall.

The 31-year-old Wawrinka is the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion since Ken Rosewall was 35 in 1970. Yet he already had gained the upper hand by the time No. 1 Djokovic clutched at his upper left leg and grimaced after missing a forehand while getting broken early in the fourth set. From there, Djokovic briefly began conceding points, showing little of the fight he’s so famous for.

Trailing 3-1 in the fourth set, Djokovic was granted the unusual chance to have a medical timeout at a time other than a changeover. He removed both shoes and socks so a trainer could help him out with what appeared to be blisters on toes.

Wawrinka complained to the chair umpire about the 6-minute break, and Djokovic looked over and apologized.

When they resumed, Djokovic earned three break points, but Wawrinka held for 4-1. That continued a pattern that carried throughout: Djokovic, as good a returner as there is in the game — now, certainly, and perhaps ever — managed to convert only 3 of 17 break chances.

Djokovic started limping later and received more toe treatment at the changeover before he served down 5-2 in the fourth.

Wawrinka has won only five of 24 career meetings against Djokovic, but has now beaten the 12-time major champion on the way to each of his own Grand Slam titles, including in the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals and 2015 French Open final.

Before this matchup, Djokovic praised Wawrinka as “a big-match player,” and, boy, is he ever. Wasn’t always, though: Playing in the shadow of his far-more-accomplished Swiss countryman and good pal, Roger Federer, Wawrinka needed until his 35th appearance at a major, at age 28, just to get to the semifinals for the first time.

But look at Wawrinka now.

He has now won 11 tournament finals in a row.

He is 3-0 in Grand Slam finals, beating the No. 1-ranked player each time.

And he did it Sunday against Djokovic, whose French Open title in June completed a career Grand Slam and made him only the third man — and first in nearly a half-century — to win four consecutive major tournaments.

Earlier Sunday, Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic won the women’s doubles title for their third Grand Slam trophy as a pair. They beat the top-seeded French team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Mattek-Sands is the first American to win women’s doubles at Flushing Meadows since 2011, when Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond did it.

The final was played on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Mattek-Sands wore knee-high socks and a left wrist band with the same red-and-white-striped, star-spangled design she did while teaming with Jack Sock to win a gold medal in mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics last month.

“To have this result here has been amazing,” Mattek-Sands told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd during the trophy ceremony, her eyes welling with tears and her voice choking on her words. “It’s a special day today here for everybody in New York.”

Kerber beats Sharapova in 3rd round; Halep in long-haul win

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Angelique Kerber is the only major winner remaining in the Australian Open women’s draw after ending Maria Sharapova’s comeback tour to Melbourne Park.

The 2016 champion routed Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the third-round match on Saturday night to extend her winning streak to 12 matches, including winning the Sydney International title last week.

Five-time major winner Sharapova was back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2016, when a failed test for meldonium led to a 15-month doping ban.

It was all over in one hour and four minutes, a vast contrast to top-ranked Simona Halep’s 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 win in three hours, 45 minutes over American Lauren Davis in the opening match on Rod Laver.

The third set took 2:22 and momentum swung. Halep wasted chances to serve for the match in the ninth, 11th and 15th games, then had to save three match points in the 22nd. There were 11 service breaks and two medical timeouts – for Davis to get treatment on both feet – before Halep converted on her first match point.

“I never played the third set so long, so I’m really happy I could stay and win it. I’m almost dead,” Halep said of the match which equaled Chanda Rubin’s win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 – also 48 games – for the Australian Open record in terms of most games.

“I just feel that my muscles are gone,” said Halep, who badly twisted her left ankle in the first round. “My ankle is, I don’t know how it is because I don’t feel it anymore! But … it was nice to win this match.”

Halep will play Naomi Osaka, who beat 18th-seeded Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2 in a match that was moved from the center court to Margaret Court Arena because of the two long matches on Rod Laver.

No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat U.S. qualifier Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2, leaving U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys as the only American woman to reach the fourth round.

Keys advanced 6-3, 6-4 over Ana Bogdan and will next play No. 8 Caroline Garcia, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 in a match featuring just one service break.

On the men’s side, Hyeon Chung took out a Zverev for the second time this week. Chung beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 six days after a win over No. 32 Mischa Zverev in the first round.

Another unexpected loss at a major had the highly-touted Zverev admitted he may have a problem.

“Definitely not physical, so… I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slam,” he said.

The 20-year-old Zverev has five titles on the elite tour but his fourth-round exit at Wimbledon last year remains his best run at a major.

Tomas Berdych ended 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro’s return to Melbourne Park for the first time since 2014 with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to set up a fourth-round match against Tennys Sandgren, who continued his career-best run by beating Maximilian Marterer 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Former world junior No. 1 Marton Fucsovics beat Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 25 Fabio Fognini overcame Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

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More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen

Top-seeded Halep survives marathon match

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Top-seeded Simona Halep served for the match four times before prevailing 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 over American Lauren Davis in a marathon match at Rod Laver Arena.

Halep saved three match points in the 22nd game of the third set at 0-40 and Davis saved five break points in the 23rd game in the 3 hour, 45-minute match. The final set took 2 hour, 22 minutes and Halep won on her first match point when Davis hit a forehand wide along the sideline.

Davis twice had medical timeouts in the final set to have blisters on both feet treated.

Halep will play the winner of Saturday’s later match between local hope Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

In other women’s third-round matches, sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova beat Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5 and No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. Garcia will play Madison Keys in the fourth round.

 

More AP coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen